Mom Shaming. We’ve all heard the word. It’s a new form of girl-on-girl crime. And thus far, I have fought like hell not to participate in it, and dodge it like the plague. I managed to make it five years and to three children without being a victim of it-well, publicly, and to my face at least. But, on June 30th, 2017 I was mom shamed.
Independence Day weekend kicked off on Friday night when the carnival came to town. My children had been begging to go all week. So, when Daddy came home early, their eyes lit up with joy and we headed to the fest for some old fashion, summertime fun.
After a few rides and some games, we met my parents under a food tent to share a meal. The sun was beginning to set and I gave my children the two minute warning; it was time to go home. I was rounding up the older two, and my husband was holding Isla in his arms when a woman and her teen son approached him asking how old the baby was.
Being our third time around, we were used to strangers “ooing and awing” over a new baby and engaging in casual conversation. Alex obliged her with a proud dad-smile and responded, “she’s two months old”. The woman then patted my husband on the shoulder, looked toward me and scoffed, “You need to take her home”, and then walked away shaking her head in disapproval. I watched the entire scene three feet away and was left dumbfounded. It happened so quickly. I had no words. They disappeared into the crowd. Then, after a moment, the hurt set in, and I realized, I was mom shamed drive-by style no less.
What this woman did not know, was that I had a difficult delivery with Isla followed by weeks of complications. That being said, I barely left the house the first five weeks of her life. I felt limited and isolated, so to be out as a family enjoying a summer night felt divine. But this woman, who obviously felt offended by my parenting choice to take my infant out in public, was trying to steal my joy.
For days I ran the scenario over and over in my mind, wondering what was so disturbing about our presence with our daughter and what I could have done differently. And each time, I came to the same conclusion. I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. I can’t please everyone. I can only do what I feel is best for my family.
This experience has opened my eyes as to how differently people interpret situations and how prevalent this criticism is in the motherhood community. As humans, we can be quick to judge someone else if her way is not the same as our way. But, we are not privy to another mother’s day-to-day life and do not know what battles she is fighting privately. Thus, we are not entitled to opine on someone else’s parenting choices. Belittling another mother to feel better about ourselves just further promotes bullying and is a disservice to the motherhood community.
I have chosen to shake off the hurtful comment and carry on with the only way I know how to mother. And, on the flip side, I have chosen to be even more mindful of others’ choices going forward.
At the end of the day, I think we all want the same things for our children. We want them to feel safe, loved, happy, and to be healthy. And the best part is, there are a million different ways to mother with no right or wrong way to get to the same result. One mother’s choice is not superior to another’s. So as mothers, let’s all continue in the spirit of community over competition and remember that we’re all in it together.
So, if you’re the mother of one of those well-rounded, smiling children-then I say to you, you’re doing great! Keep on mama!
Amanda Cifuentes Walchli